Andy Blumenthal
Leadership With Heart

When Politics Gets Personal

(Credit Photo: John Hain via

Not unlike the deep political divide in Israel over Judicial Reform, this week’s US Supreme Court decision striking down college affirmative action following their prior ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has once again brought to the forefront the huge political divide in this country. Further, the polarization and bitterness between the right and left from the 2020 election are still simmering as we approach the next presidential election in 2024. Underneath all the day-to-day niceties, there seems to be a latent powder keg in our electorate, especially if the next election is a repeat between Trump and Biden.

In this context, I must admit that I had a run-in with someone this week who sits on the other side of the political spectrum from me. And maybe, as they say, it’s best not to talk too much about religion or politics, just for the reasons I am about to convey. Note: I am not trying to argue here for one side or the other.

It started when I shared with others an article profiled at the top of the page in The Times of Israel expressing concern about the rising antisemitism in this country. I wanted to hear this person’s point of view because antisemitism is not only coming from some on the right but also from far-left Progressives. I was expecting the other person to say something like, “Jewish hate and anti-Zionism are terrible things regardless of which party they come from, and after the Holocaust 78 years ago, we all need to beware of them.” However, the person got hugely triggered by the politics of it all, and instead I got an earful of such deep, festering hate, not for the antisemites (wherever they reside), but rather for the Republicans, with the person telling me something like, “The whole Republican party should go up in smoke!” I understand that everyone has their own feelings, but this was clearly an over-the-top reaction. I was like, “Whoa, I thought we were talking about antisemitism here; what’s up with this?” To which I got some reply about Trump, Desantis, and others, whom this person was furious at for their policies, but the Democrats to them were the party of near saints. Ooookay, I thought, I better let this go, and I basically said something like, “Nice talking to you, bye!”

But the story isn’t over; the very next morning, the person (who must’ve been stewing all night) sends me an article from JTA about a small survey of 800 Jews, which found that most are slated to vote Democratic in the 2024 election. Well, no big surprise there, as most Jews are historically liberal and have voted Democratic. So I said something like, “There is certainly a long liberal voting pattern for Jews, but that pattern has been changing to the right, especially among Orthodox Jews (actually 75% as of May 2021), many Zionists, and others.” To that, the other person literally started cursing out Trump, and they said they were happy not to be associated with Jews that “have holy books and no moral compass.” At this point, I am realizing that this person is seriously triggered by both politics and religion.

The story continues and even goes nuclear, with the other person then making insane comparisons between Republicans and Hitler, who started World War II and killed 6 million Jews, telling me, “Hitler deserved anger and hate. So do Trump and DeSantis!” Okay, I am now in the middle of a complete firestorm, and I can only imagine what is coming next. Yes, it’s now a personal attack on me, and I’ll spare you the gory details. It was a complete lashout. Honestly, I don’t know how I kept my composure. However, I am proud to say that I did. As Michelle Obama famously said, “When they go low, we go high.” And I did; I didn’t say one nasty thing in return. To the contrary, when I saw that they couldn’t or wouldn’t stop, I basically told them, if it makes them feel better, “Bring it on.”

What was I thinking through all of this?

First of all, you can’t count on civility anymore. The political situation in this country and maybe for some individuals or groups in particular is in a very dangerous place, and you never know what can set it off and bring out riots again, our cities to burn, and even violence. It is truly an explosive situation, and I don’t know if another Supreme Court decision or the next election will ignite it.

Second, I thought about whether I should respond to this person, if nothing else, to try to get them to stop verbally berating and abusing me personally. I’d even say that my brain was ready to fire and the words were ready to go, but then I remembered that this is not the way. Maybe it was the old way for me to defend myself when attacked like this, but I have been growing for many years now. I am not that person; I am better and stronger in many ways.

Most of all, and truthfully, despite the hurt I was experiencing, I felt the spirit of Hashem glowing inside me. And I told myself that Hashem would not want me to get nasty and fight with this person. And in fact, I didn’t. Just the opposite, I actually told them that I appreciated their opinion. For real, I told them that despite their hate and anger towards the politicians, Orthodox Jews, even G-d, and me, I told them to enjoy their blessings in life and politely ended the conversation with “Have a nice day.”

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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